Two Kid Stroller: Review of the GB Evoq Travel System

Posted by Carly Morgan

Disclaimer: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for GB. I received a GB stroller to facilitate my review as well as thank me for my participation.

IMG_9495So, you guys know that we’re picky about our strollers. At this point, we’ve bought five single strollers and two double strollers and we’ve been using them all on different days for different things (this one for running on the street, this one for running at the park, this one for the museums, this one for the mall, etc.). When I was contacted to test out the GB Evoq Travel System, I have to admit that I was happy to be getting a new stroller but I assumed we’d be passing this one along to someone else since our stroller needs are covered.

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This travel system. Is. Awesome.

First off, this is the first stroller that accommodates both of our kids while recognizing that they’re two years apart in age. For quick trips, we can use the car seat attachment so we don’t need to bother with pulling Calvin out (great if he’s asleep). The car seat is very nice, easy to install, and is larger than our other infant car seat so it still fits our growing boy in the safe rear-facing position. However, if both kids want to use the stroller, the adjustable stroller seat adjusts to either kid easily and Eva also has the option of riding on the standing platform while her brother sits (a first for us in the stroller world).


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In fact, this stroller has won the coveted position of being the stroller we’re taking to Walt Disney World for our big cross-country vacation. It’s a very smooth ride, has a large storage basket, and the seat transitions from sitting to a nice sleeping position without waking Calvin up. Eva actually slept in the stroller parked in our bedroom the other night because she’s been fighting a bad cold and being just a little propped up made all the difference (sleeping in the stroller in the house = another first for us!).

It’s stuff like this that makes me want to have another kid. I feel like we’re going to try out all the great stuff and just when we have the absolute best of everything our kids will be too big! Luckily, we have at least a couple of years left in this stroller for monster truck boy and at the very least I can be the person who can tell people exactly what they need to add to their baby registry, right?

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If you’re in the market for an all-in-one travel system that will grow with your kid, the GB Evoq Travel System is available exclusively at Babies “R” Us stores and BabiesRUs.com.

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The Case for Having Afternoon Tea with Your Kids

Posted by Carly Morgan

IMG_9947I love tea time.

When I was studying in Oxford, we had a break between classes every day at 10AM and we’d all head to the dining hall for tea and cookies. It was fantastic because we’d have a chance to catch up with each other or just sit for a minute and take a breath. Since then, I’ve been something of a tea addict.

Taking a tea break with your kids doesn’t have to be an elaborate thing. Simply sitting down with something warm and a couple of biscuits is a nice way to catch up. That being said, I’m a huge fan of doing a full afternoon tea and it’s become a ritual we indulge in a couple of times a week.

Tea time is a hit with kids because it gives them a chance to participate in something grown up and (at least in our house) it’s an excuse to sneak a little sugar into the day. Eva is all about doing things correctly in the right order so she’s become a tiny pro at pouring tea. It’s also been a great way to practice things like table manners, simple recipes, and polite conversation.

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Setting up an afternoon tea isn’t hard. I put together a mismatched tea service from things I found at TJ Maxx, ordered a few kinds of caffeine-free herbal tea, and I now keep things like sugar cubes and cream in the house all the time. For our snacks, it’s often nothing fancier than boxed cookies and fresh fruit but we also do simple cream cheese sandwiches and the occasional tray of hot scones.

If you’re going to hold an afternoon tea with your kids, here are some things to keep in mind:

/// a tea service usually consists of a tea pot, teacups with saucers, tea spoons, a creamer, a sugar bowl, and cloth napkins. You can also add a jar of honey, a plate of lemons with a lemon fork, a strainer for loose tea, and a tiered serving platter for tea snacks.

/// set the scene with a simple white tablecloth (yay, bleach!), classical music, and some fresh flowers

/// follow proper tea protocal. Guests should wait for the hostess to sit down, unfold her napkin, and place it in her lap. (Eva and I take turns being the hostess.) Add sugar or honey before you add milk and be sure to stir quietly. If you’re having lemon, slice it in thin round circles so nobody is tempted to spritz it all over the table and never suck on the rinds. (Don’t forget not to mix milk and lemon – it will curdle!)

/// take small bites, maintain good posture, and never talk over someone else. If one of the guests insists on throwing his fruit on the floor (*cough* Calvin *cough*), pretend he’s not there. Be sure to thank the hostess when you’re done!

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Chinese New Year: Welcome the Year of the Sheep!

Posted by Carly Morgan

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NewYearFortune #CollectiveBias

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Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

Ok, I’m a little early because the Year of the Sheep doesn’t actually start until Thursday, but we have a big busy week ahead of us and with this nice three day weekend we got a head start on the festivities. Chinese New Year is a tricky holiday because if you go all out and do all of the traditions it can be a little overwhelming! Depending on how you celebrate, the new year can be a two week event complete with special themed days, elaborate decorations, and elaborate menus.

Being part Chinese, I grew up celebrating Chinese New Year, but now that I’m the mom of the house I like to do my own Americanized take on the holiday (think “Chinese New Year Lite”). We still follow some of the old traditions. We set out bowls of oranges with lai see, which are red paper envelopes that have a bit of money tucked inside for luck. We scrub the house and sweep the porch to get rid of last year and we start the new year fresh ourselves (meaning haircuts for everyone!).

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We also make some of the traditional foods, including long noodles for longevity and sweet sauces for a sweet year. Realistically, though, making everything from scratch would be crazymaking with the two kiddos and the fact that my Chinese background is more Out for Dim Sum on Sundays than it is Roasting Chicken Feet in the Kitchen. So, we picked up Tai Pei® frozen appetizers from Walmart in order to easily prepare some of our favorite treats: egg rolls, spring rolls, and pot stickers.

The rich flavors Tai Pei® appetizers bring are very traditional and bring back childhood memories for me. I love that they make it easy to include chicken, pork, shrimp, and vegetarian options in our celebration without making me haul out every pan in the kitchen. The sweet dipping sauce is also a little addictive, especially with the salty crispiness and fresh vegetable taste of the spring rolls.

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Even if you didn’t think you’d be celebrating Chinese New Year, it would be easy to throw together a midweek celebration using some crispyTai Pei® appetizers, the included dipping sauce, and a few other accents. Traditionally the colors for the new year are red and gold so we used a few dishes with gold accents to highlight the foods, piled citrus fruits and lai see (available at your local Chinese market) into our red pie plate, and sprinkled confetti hearts on the table.

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The food alone is enough to bring friends together, but we also like to celebrate our American Chinese New Year by introducing our friends to their Chinese horoscopes (Kyle and I are both dogs, Eva is a bunny, and Cal is a snake) and we usually pop in an appropriate movie. Pre-kids that meant Blood Alley, the John Wayne movie my grandmother was in, but these days it’s usually Mulan or Big Bird Goes to China.

For more ideas, you can follow Tai Pei® on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook. Their Facebook page has a Chinese New Year App a red envelope offer on appetizers that will be there until they run out.

However you’re celebrating, have a happy new year!

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Our First Outing to the Living Planet Aquarium

Posted by Carly Morgan

We finally visited The Living Planet Aquarium, which is the only place in Utah to see penguins. I’d heard mixed reviews since it opened, but we unexpectedly found ourselves in Draper with a couple of hours to kill so I decided it would be worth it to check it out with the kids.

My review: I’d give it three out of five stars. It was much more open than the last aquarium was and the enclosures are more impressive, but ultimately there just wasn’t enough to look at to keep the kids interested for more than about an hour. We spent two hours and saw everything twice before Eva asked (asked!) if we could leave. I will say that it was a good size for my two kids, though, since there were lots of spaces where Calvin could stretch his legs without getting run over and Eva was able to access and interact with all of the exhibits.

Granted, we didn’t check out the large playspace that’s now connected to the aquarium, we didn’t take in a 3D movie, and we didn’t see any of the animal shows that they sometimes offer, so if you were really going to make a day of it you could theoretically double the amount of fun we had. As it was, it was perfect for a spur of the moment outing, the kids had fun, and I think a visit once a year would work for us but an annual pass would go unused.

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What if Homeschooling Doesn’t Work for Your Kid?

Posted by Carly Morgan

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We’re about 5 weeks into this homeschooling and the short story is that it’s not going well.

The first couple of weeks were great. Better than great. Eva picked up new skills like crazy and we looked forward to our homeschool lessons together. I built time into our schedule for more outings, more games, more computer time, more books…and for a while there I was kicking myself that I had waited so long to homeschool because we were having such fun.

And then.

I’m not sure how we started sliding downhill. I think the novelty of doing homeschool lessons began to wear off for Eva so she suddenly “forgot” how to do everything and each lesson took twice as long because she’d put her head down and cry. My work started to pile up, so outings got a little more stressed, board games were a little more frustrating, and reading to the kids at lunch turned into playing educational videos for the kids at lunch (and then Disney videos eventually) as I desperately tried to regain a hold on my email.

I reached out for help and was encouraged by fellow homeschoolers who said to plan on a solid 6 months of transition time before everyone would be used to it. That sounded uplifting until I started to realize I was staring down the barrel at another 5 months of dragging Eva to the bookshelf to pick a book when she used to come running to me with an armload of stories she’d picked out. What was happening to my eager-to-learn kid?

Then the little things started to pile up. First, she began to ask about her friends constantly and when they’d come over she’d be practically frantic to make them stay as long as possible, totally preoccupied with what time they had to leave. She also started packing things into her school bag and leaving it by the door every day. “I know I’m not going to school anymore mom, but just in case.” In fact, “just in case” became the reason for everything…packing snacks, buying new shoes, making a Valentine’s Day box. She wanted it all just in case she woke up and it was magically a school day.

And then, this week, two crying fits with her asking for her teacher by name. Promising to try harder if she could go back to school. Making schools out of legos, wooden blocks, Lincoln Logs. Trotting all of the Calico Critters in and out of her created classrooms.

Blaaaaah.

And, to be totally selfish, I’m not a happy camper either with this homeschooling thing. It’s really tough to get my work done in the little gaps between all of the other things I have going on. The house is destroyed. Dinner only gets finished if we turn it into a homeschool lesson, in which case it takes twice as long to prepare, uses twice the amount of dishes, and tastes half as good. Plus, I’m now self-conscious about my skills as a teacher. I’m a smart person, but early education might not be in my skill set. Apparently 1 out of 1 of my students would really, really like to switch schools.

So.

According to homeschool lore, if we stick it out it will eventually get really good. Eventually.

Or.

There are a couple of other options we haven’t explored. Different schools. Different plans. Things that are harder and less convenient and more expensive. Ultimately, things that she’d probably enjoy much more…even if that bar is pretty low at the moment.

I don’t know. I’m tempted to struggle through but I don’t want to waste too much time making us both miserable if this isn’t for us. I love doing things with my kids (especially educational things) but right now I’m burnt out and she’s burnt out and I feel like we all like each other a little less than we did five weeks ago. So maybe changing up the plan will get us back to a good place…or maybe this is the post I reference later when I talk about how I wasn’t sure homeschooling was for us and then I realized it was the greatest thing in the world.

Just another parenting mystery I haven’t solved yet…

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